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Barrier methods

Barrier methods

What is a barrier method?

  • A barrier method is a type of contraception which puts a barrier between the penis and vagina to keep sperm from reaching the egg.


  • Barrier methods are an effective method of contraception but are dependent on how well you use them.


  • They are not as effective as other methods such as long-acting contraceptives.


  • Condoms are the most well-known type of barrier method.


  • Some barrier methods also protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

many different barrier methods

What are the different types of barrier methods?

There are three main barrier methods of contraception. These methods are:


  • External (male) condoms

  • Internal (female) condoms

  • Diaphragms & caps

Barrier methods

External condoms

External (male) condom

External condoms cover an erect penis to catch sperm and prevent it from meeting & fertilising an egg.

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The combined oral Contraceptive pill

Internal (female) condom

Internal condoms are worn inside the vagina to catch sperm and prevent it from meeting and fertilising an egg.

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Diaphragms & caps


The contraceptive diaphragm is a dome-shaped flexible disk placed in the vagina before sex.

It prevents pregnancy by blocking the entrance of the cervix, preventing sperm from reaching the womb (uterus) to fertilise an egg.

Find out more

Short-acting contraception

Barrier methods are a subcategory of a larger category of contraceptives called short-acting contraception. Short acting contraceptives get their name because they work for a short period of time – either every time you have sex, daily, weekly or monthly.


Your contraception, your choice

Being able to control if and when you have children is a big part of maintaining your health. Learn about the contraceptive options available in the UK to help you find your perfect fit.


Learn more

PP-UN-WHC-GB-0068 September 2023


The health information on this site has been reviewed and approved by Bayer by an appropriately qualified medical reviewer. It is intended as general information only. It is not intended to replace a consultation with a healthcare professional, to provide specific medical advice or replace the patient information leaflet provided with your medicine. Treatments discussed here should be initiated under medical supervision. For full information including side effects and eligibility for treatment, please consult your healthcare professional. Always speak to your doctor or nurse for personal medical advice.


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